Archive for the ‘photo repair’ Category
Original photos are made from layers. Old black and white photos were often made from fibre based paper. The base papers themselves would have been made in paper mills and the top coating of light sensitive chemical based sulphates called “baryta” was then added to produce the photographic paper. Once exposed to light and developed the positive image is embedded in the “baryta” or emulsion. If this top layer gets damaged there is no way to build up the layer and replace it. You cannot add wax or pen or ink, nothing comes close to the original emulsion. If some of the fibres of the paper have come away, then what? These cannot be replaced either, you cannot simply glue down new ones! Even if it were possible to put back a blank filler into the hole, there is no way to reproduce the grain structure that was there in the original, or the subtle tones and shading of the original photo.
The same goes for colour photos, the resin or solid polyester top coat cannot be replaced with anything, It cannot be built up and restored. If there was a way to do this that was commercially available, there would not be so many digital photo restoration companies offering their digital restoration services today!
Sorry but it is not good news if own a damaged photo and want the original restored.
The only salvation may be that working in conjunction with a photo restoration artist, you can get a digital restoration done and then use that to help patch up the original. Of course this would only work if the paper texture and tone could be matched!
The question is, is it an original?
Genealogy and preserving photos isn’t new. The chances are somewhere in the family collection of old photos there are some that look a little smoother and shinier than the other, they still look old but just not as wrinkled.
Take a look at these carefully, can you see the scratches and creases, fold marks and tears but is the photo perfectly smooth? If so it is more likely to be a copy of an original. Unfortunately if this copy was made a while back when scanning technology was not so good, it may have been scanned with a first generation scanner and printed in a high street lab when photo labs were numerous, around the 70’s and 80’s and 90’s. The chances are the tonal range within the reprint has changed dramatically from the original.
If you can turn the photo over, on the back may be printed “Fuji” or “Agfa” or “Kodak” in a faded font but clear as day, the paper itself is kind of plastic and not really papery at all. Very old photos were printed on paper made from pulp, made up of many layers of fibers, plastic papers just don’t have these and should be easy to spot.
In scanning the tones would have been averaged by the scanner and then when reprinting, the machines would have averaged again and much of the mid tones would have been lost. When it comes to making a restoration of this for the third time around, bringing out the details and enhancing the photo and making the restoration, is going to be somewhat disappointing, than if it were direct from the original. The mid tones are what helps create shape and form to objects, the subtle shadows on some ones face,without these the photo will be just black and white and be very contrasty with little detail.
Lessons to learn here are, make sure that if you do end up making copies of old photos, make sure you still keep the original, no matter what state it is in! If you have to make a copy try to get it done professionally to ensure the maximum tonal range available, to allow for the best detail and best future photo restoration.
So much can be achieved with photo restoration, just browse through the blog and the website to get broad spectrum of what is possible. Check through the lists below there may be a link with another article or web page you haven’t seen yet.
- Repairing and restoring cracks
- Repairing and restoring folds and creases
- Replacing missing pieces
- Restoring flaked emulsion
- Stitching pieces back together
- Correcting water damage
- Removing mould and paint
- Removing “proof” stamps
- Removing paper texture
Retouching faces or bodies
- Retouching and colouring eyes
- Removing or adding hair
- Removing unwanted shadows
- Removing blemishes and wrinkles
- Smoothing skin tone
- Slimming the figure, removing the shine from faces
- Adding (digitally hand colouring) colour to a black and white photo
- Removing colour from a photo
- Enhancing colours in a faded photo
- Removing colour casts and correcting colour
- Correcting film fogging
- Repairing stains
Combining and montage
- Adding people or objects to photos
- Removing people or objects from photos
- Using two or more photos to make one photo
- Using objects, people or anything to make something artistic.
Restoration requests have been many and one the most in-depth and challenging was one presented to me by a young lady who had not seen her wedding photos for a long while, nor really in any great depth. Due to some family disturbance they would have brought back bad memories and now ready, she examined them only to be disappointed. In this project I
moved the tide further down the beach, removed creases from the wedding dress, removed bits of flab sticking out in various places, shiny faces were reduced. I rebuilt the foreground of a restaurant scene to remove a person, in all retouched and manipulated over 250 photos!
So what is not possible?
It is not possible to:
Focus a completely out of focus picture. (If it is an obviously out of focus photo it cannot be refocused)
Fixed a blurred photo. This would be where the camera moved when taking the photo or the subject moved. Moving the camera when depressing the shutter is more evident from the early days of photography when the film speed and resulting shutter speeds were slower. The moment evident in the photo is sort of a moving blur, normally in a down and up motion. Motion in single plain can sometimes be corrected, but it is so rare. Examples you may have seen on the Internet are normally manufactured instances under ideal conditions, where the motion blur has a chance of being corrected.
Open closed eyes. Not without another set of open ones to replace them with.
Replace a head. Now we are getting silly, again not without another photo of that person’s head